Sunday 1 April 2018

Film Review: A Quiet Place

Engulfed in a thick fog of tension, A Quiet Place is an early contender for the best horror film of 2018.

The best horror movies are those that prey on very basic, primal fears; things like don’t breathe, don’t blink or don’t move. In A Quiet Place, writer/actor/director John Krasinski implores his audience and his characters to not make a sound. The film, set in the not-too-distant future, centres around a family who must navigate their lives in total silence after the world is overrun by vicious creatures who hunt via noise, where even the slightest tremor or tinkle could alert them to your presence. 

Krasinski really sells us on this bleak and unforgiving future. The fear and dread conveyed with every creaking floorboard or crunchy leaf underfoot is immediately arresting, and effective direction from Krasinski, in only his third feature film, envelops the theatre, getting under your skin and putting you on edge right from the get-go. Few films are as adept as crafting tension as A Quiet Place; prepare to peer though your fingers, dig your nails into the armrest and squirm like you’ve got an eel in your undies.

A distinct lack of a dialogue – the characters communicate via subtitled American Sign Language –means the viewer is scanning the auditory soundscape for every scuffle and snarl as much as they are probing the frame for shadows. The absence of dialogue shifts the focus onto the facial expressions of the actors, as well as the subtle and unnerving sound design. Rising to the occasion, Krasinski and real-life and onscreen wife Emily Blunt are great in conveying this paralysing terror through their performances. 

There are more than a few hair-raising jump scares that punctuate the tension, and the film doesn’t waste time in getting to the point; an in medias res prologue sets the scene before leaping ahead several months to establish the family in their new normal; fishing in the river and washing laundry all in total silence. Sensational headlines posit questions – what are these creatures that stalk via sound? – but for the most part this is a film about its human characters, rather than the boogeymen chasing them.

And while the film is light on specifics – this isn’t a sci-fi/thriller that goes to great lengths to explore the how and why of its gruesome antagonists – it also isn’t a horror film where you never get a good look at the predator lurking in the bushes. The most immediate and obvious comparison is Ridley Scott’s Alien – the fear of the unknown and the undefinable pervades every scene – but JJ Abrams’ Super 8 and M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs also spring to mind. 

An over-reliance on Marco Beltrami’s strings signposts some of the biggest scares and the rather simplistic concept feels a little strung out across the 95-minute runtime, with the finale arriving in a hurry, but this does little to detract from the overall impact of Krasinski's compelling and punishing monster mash.

The Verdict: 8/10

A Quiet Place is a compelling and gruesome creature feature from Krasinski, and one that will enthral genre fans and general audiences alike

A Quiet Place is in cinemas across Australia in cinemas on April 5.

1 comment:

  1. I mostly skimmed this because I want to go in knowing as little as possible but I'm delighted to see you gave it 8/10. Can't wait to see it!



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